Here are the most important and interesting stats you need to know about the Big Ten in 2015:
yards per game with Nate Sudfeld
In the five games that Sudfeld finished last year, the Hoosiers averaged 513.2 yards per game and won three times, including a road victory over eventual SEC East champ Mizzou. In the seven games Sudfeld didn’t finish (six of which he didn't play in), Indiana averaged 327.7 yards per game and won just once.
220.4: Wes Lunt’s division-leading yards per game
The quarterback play leaves much to be desired in the Big Ten West but Illinois may have the best one. Lunt missed five games last year but still led the division with 220.4 yards passing per game. He also posted the division’s best TD:INT ratio with 14 scoring strikes and just three picks. It’s Lunt who gives the Illini any chance at winning games in 2015.
yards per play under Greg Davis
Greg Davis took over as the Iowa offensive coordinator in 2012 and has not exactly set the world on fire in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes have averaged just 5.2 yards per play in those three seasons — which would have ranked 98th in the nation last season. That said, his 2014 was his best year since arriving at Iowa with a 5.5 yards per play clip and his offense has gotten (slowly) more efficient each season he’s been there. (Although, that 5.5 clip was still just 72nd in the nation.)
leading rusher's yards per game average in 2014
C.J. Brown led Maryland in rushing last year at 41.5 yards per game, good for just 20th in the Big Ten last season. Brandon Ross is the leading returning rusher and he carried the ball just 85 times. Needless to say, the Terps need to improve on the 111th-ranked rushing offense if they want to keep improving in the run-oriented Big Ten.
finished the season ranked since 2006
Michigan obviously hasn’t had its best decade. But to finish the season unranked in six of the last eight seasons is downright unbelievable. Only once in 2006 has Michigan finished in the top 15 (2011) and only three times has it even been ranked at season’s end. The Wolverines were ranked in the top 15 to end the year 29 times between 1969 and 2006.
winning percentage since 2010
The Spartans have won 53 games in 67 tries over the last five years for a remarkable 79.1 percent clip. Michigan State has won at least 11 games four times during that span, which is the only time in school history that the program has won at least 11 times in a season. It marks the highest percentage over a five-year span for Sparty since 1951-55.
against ranked foes under Jerry Kill
In four years under the highly respected Kill, Minnesota has quickly improved from a 3-9 afterthought to a perennial bowl team to a division contender. However, the Gophers have not been able to beat ranked teams, going 0-for-12 in his four seasons. Otherwise, Minnesota has won the games it’s supposed to, going 16-4 in the last two seasons against unranked opponents.
5,278: Ameer Abdullah's career yards from scrimmage
Abdullah is one of the greatest running backs at a school known for its great running tradition. In fact, no player in school history produced more yards from scrimmage than his 5,278 yards. Abdullah was the first Husker to rush for 1,000 yards in three straight seasons and his 4,588 career total is second to Rozier all-time in Lincoln. His 48 career touchdowns rank third all-time as well. Replacing him should be Mike Riley’s first order of business.
45: Career starts from Ibraheim Campbell
Northwestern finished above average on defense in the Big Ten last year, ranking in the top 50 nationally in yards per play allowed, turnover margin, red zone defense and big-play defense (20+ yards). A huge part of that was three-time All-Big Ten safety Campbell. He posted 316 career tackles and 11 career interceptions in 45 career starts for Pat Fitzgerald. Campbell was a leader and model athlete for Northwestern and will be missed.
4.3: Average recruiting ranking for
under Urban Meyer
Urban Meyer was going to bring the SEC to the Big Ten and that is exactly what happened. He has won a national title with elite athletes on both sides of the ball, crushing the Big Ten along the way. In four classes in Columbus, Ohio State has out-recruited every team in the nation but one with an average national recruiting ranking of 4.3. Only Alabama’s 1.0 average ranking is better over the last four cycles. Michigan is a distant second in the league with an average class ranking of 17.0 over that same span.
yards per carry
The Nittany Lions had major offensive line woes in 2014 and it led to a frustrated quarterback and zero running game. The Lions ranked dead last in the Big Ten in yards per carry (2.9), yards per game (101.9) and rushing touchdowns (13). Those numbers ranked 125th, 120th and 104th nationally. Christian Hackenberg needs more support from his ground game if the Lions want to be relevant in the Big Ten East.
In an era of tempo offense in a league that is infamously slower than most, Purdue was one of the slowest and least effective. The Boilermakers ran just 836 offensive plays in 2014, ranking ahead of only Michigan and finishing 105th nationally. It’s hard to score points when the offense is on the bench, so it should be no surprise that Purdue averaged just 23.8 points per game (98th) last fall.
yards per play allowed
The Knights finished dead last in the Big Ten and 113th nationally in defensive efficiency in 2014 by a wide margin. Rutgers allowed 6.4 yards per play — nearly a half yard more per play than Illinois, which checked in at No. 13 in the B1G. The Knights return five starters on defense in 2015.
leading rusher has averaged over last four years
Wisconsin is known for its running game and star ball carriers. Over the last four years, the Badgers' leading rusher has AVERAGED 1,987.3 yards and 24.0 touchdowns. Melvin Gordon and Montee Ball clearly upheld the lofty expectations for a UW running back. Corey Clement now steps into a starting role after averaging 7.0 yards per carry in his first two seasons (214 att., 1,496 yards). He’s talented enough to keep those average leading rusher statistics up at Wisconsin.